Dream therapy is the use of dreams and the dream state to accomplish physical and emotional healing. It involves both the interpretation of information obtained while dreaming and the active participation in the dream process called lucid dreaming. The various process associated with dreams have been put inder the generlized term of dreamwork.
Throughout history dreams and their interpretaion have been of great interest to people because they provide a link between the mysterious inner world of the mind and the outer physical world of waking life.
Hippocrates practiced dream therapy, encouraged dream incubation, and taught about the therapeutic powers of dreams. In ancient Greece, more than three hundred dream temples were built to heal the sick.
Dream incubation was a practice in which people made a pilgrimage to a sacred temple in hopes of having a curative or prophetic dream while sleeping. There were elaborate preparations for the dream experience. The process lasted up to three weeks and included prayers, fasting, bathing, singing and reciting poetry. The practice began in Egypt and was used for more than a thousand years in Greece.
Freud aroused interest in the importance of the dreaming mind. He stressed that dream interpretaion by an expert psychoanalyst could be very healing. In Jungian analysis, therapy begins with free association and dream analysis. Great emphasis is placed on dream interpretation. Carl Jung said, “To be concerned with dreams is a form of self realization”.
Although psychotherapists use the dream interpretation as part of their normal therapy, and there are practitioners in the healing arts who specialize in dream analysis consultation, dreamwork is mostly a self-help process.
Most dream interpretation is done by the individual having the dream, using one of the many books available on dream interpretation. Dreams may warn of oncoming health problems, help diagnose them, suggest treatment, accelerate the healing process, and contribute to life-long health.
An individual with an injury, illness, or emotional problem can use lucid dreaming to heal herself. Lucid dreaming is the process in which the person takes her conscious awareness (conscious mind) into the dream state to recieve guidance or insight on a particular subject or problem. It is the unconscious awareness (subconscious mind) that provides answers and information in the form of symbols and pictures in the dream state.
During waking hours, our conscious awareness is part of the mind that deals with memory, knowledge, and logic; it used words, ideas, and thought to communicate. When the conscious awareness is taken into the dream state, there is a moment in the dream at which you are aware you are dreaming. By using a “script” prepared before going to sleep, you can influence the dream and make it turn out the way you want. For example you could say, “Help me heal” or visualize your skin free of the disease that now infests it.
Having the conscious awareness functioning while dreaming builds a bridge, so to speak, between the conscious and unconscious awareness and allows the two to work together. The conscious awareness is then able to interpret the pictures and symbols (answers from the unconscious awareness), and upon waking the dreamer will know why he had the dream and what the dream meant. The dreamer can them use this information to heal herself. Also, healing can take place within the dream and the individual can wake up and be fully healed without further effort.